From the Principal
Dear Parents and Carers,
When we learnt last Thursday that we were again to go into an enforced lockdown, the disappointment among the teachers and support staff was tangible. We know from the 2020 experience that teaching through a screen is no substitute for face-to-face teaching. Interactions in the virtual classroom are not as spontaneous as they are in a “real” classroom. While our teachers are working very hard to engage their students, we very much miss their antics, their spontaneity, their exuberance and their energy. We miss the casual conversations on the playground. We will do our very best to ensure high standards of teaching remotely, but we make no secret of our desire to be back on site as soon as possible.
Having said that, we recognise that online learning does have its advantages. As parents, you are taking on a teaching role. Make your own choices. Follow the program that your child’s teacher has planned, but remember that all subjects are fair game – from cooking to sewing to artistic pursuits to woodwork. Teachable moments are always happening, and they are not always limited to school hours. Your child’s teacher would love to know of any other teachable moments that you discover during this period of lockdown.
Who doesn’t like to set their own schedule? Home learning allows you some freedom in how you structure your days. If your child struggles to wake up by 7:00am, for example, you can start school later. And, since the timing of home learning can be fluid, you can plan to break up the day with a walk on the beach or a game in the backyard.
The more time you spend with your children, the more opportunities arise for bonding. If you’ve always wished for more hours in the day as a family, perhaps home learning is the opportunity that you have been craving.
Keeping your children at home also reduces the risk of them being exposed to COVID-19. Early on in the pandemic, this was a source of anxiety for many families. Even when schools re-open, there are parents who may not feel safe sending their children back until a vaccine is available to children of all ages. Everyone has different comfort levels, and for some, taking it slower is the best approach.
I also recognise the stresses associated with home learning. In addition to the domestic responsibilities of your role as a parent, you are now a teacher, tutor, curriculum researcher and principal. Teaching your kids at home is simply a lot of work. In addition, if you have younger children at home who are not of school age, you may also struggle to keep them occupied while you sit down to teach older children.
Not surprisingly, the workload of home learning – and children home all day - is likely to leave you with less time for yourself. Some of you might find that you do not have time to shower, let alone exercise or take care of your own needs. For parents who are used to a quiet, child-free environment during the day, this aspect of home learning can be a major adjustment.
All the work of home learning is guaranteed to take up a significant part of your day. Therefore, you may not be able to work your regular job, or you may have to cut your hours significantly. For some households, this may be a financial deal-breaker.
While many families find that home learning boosts good vibes between siblings and parents, there is such a thing as too much togetherness. You may find that spending all day, every day, with your children (and they with each other) leads to feelings of frustration or confinement. You may also go through an adjustment period as your children learn how to view (and respect) you as a person who is facilitating their learning from home. It is therefore important to work in breaks, both for yourself and your children.
In spite of the enormous flexibility of home learning, it can limit social opportunities for your child. Perhaps you and your friends can provide social interaction – within the limits of lockdown rules - that your child will not get from the everyday interactions in the classrooms and on the playground.
Parents and Carers . . . I am in awe of you. As a parent, I never had to deal with the situation that you are currently going through, so I can only guess how difficult it can be. I also recognise that there will be moments of gratitude that you should savour. Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the staff if you need advice, clarification or just a chat. In spite of the difficulties of home learning, you will do an amazing job in supporting your children and their teachers.
Parent Engagemtn Group Meeting
COVID has forced us to cancel many of our engagements, but we still plan to run our Parent Engagement Group (PEG) meeting via Zoom on Wednesday 25th August. At this meeting we will present an information session on Student Wellbeing at St Patrick’s. Details of the meeting appear elsewhere in this newsletter. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
At this meeting I am very happy to answer any questions that are submitted to me prior to the meeting.
ICAS ASSESSMENTS POSTPONED
Due to the current lockdown, the ICAS competitions have been postponed to Term 4. We will ensure to keep you informed of the revised dates.
NEWCASTLE PERMANENT MATHEMATICS COMPETITION POSTPONED
Due to the current lockdown, the Newcastle Permanent Mathematics Competition for Years 5 and 6 students has been postponed to Tuesday 21 September for all schools. This revised event date will allow all registered schools and students to participate at the same time, should there be no further lockdown restrictions.
“OPT OUT” OPTION FROM SURVEY
As part of our focus on school effectiveness, St Patrick’s will be participating in an online survey – “Tell Them From Me” (TTFM®) for students in Years 4, 5 and 6). The survey will provide us with valuable feedback on what our students think about their faith, school life, how engaged they are with school, and the different ways that teachers interact with them. Schools in Australia and around the world have used the Tell Them From Me survey to help them improve.
During the next few weeks the Years 4, 5 and 6 students will be given the opportunity to participate in this survey. Students who agree to complete the survey will be given a random username and password to access and complete the survey online. Students’ names cannot be linked to their responses, allowing it to be completely anonymous. Results will show all student scores combined, making it impossible to single out individual students in the results.
The survey takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete. The survey measures include such topics as emotional and social well-being, physical health, and behaviours and attitudes linked to student success.
Participation in the survey is entirely voluntary. Your child will not take part if either you or your child do not wish to do so. If, during the survey, your child is uncomfortable answering any question, they should leave it blank and move on to the next one. Your child can stop the survey at any time.
If you do not want your child to take part in the survey, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me that you do not give consent. If you would like more information, please contact me.
Peter Green (Principal)
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